The majority of health systems now offer some sort of home-based care program. The biggest goals of these programs are to improve patient outcomes through reductions in readmissions, hospitalizations and emergency room visits, according to a report released Wednesday by Current Health.
Current Health is a remote patient monitoring company that was acquired by Best Buy last year for $400 million. For its report, the company partnered with independent research firm Sage Growth Partners to survey 103 hospital and health system leaders. The respondents, who all worked for organizations with more than $100 million in patient revenue, included CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, chief nursing officers and vice presidents of finance.
One of the report’s more interesting findings was that respondents ranked improving health equity relatively low among the goals of home care models. This is despite the idea that being in a patient’s home often gives providers a better understanding of their life and how it is impacted by social determinants of health.
This survey finding was notable because Pippa Shulman, Medically Home’s chief medical officer, identified solving equity and access issues as one of the most important goals in home care during a recent interview.
“As a doctor, I can ask a lot of questions, but time is quite limited,” Shulman told MedCity News last month. “When I have my primary in-home clinician at the bedside of the patient and the tablet camera opens up, I can now see pictures on the wall. I see plants, I see mess, I see tidiness, I see dogs and cats roaming by. Think of all of the information that can go into medical planning — people are not diseases, people are the accumulation of all of their life experiences and the people they’re around.”
Shulman’s advice to health systems was to make equity a priority when implementing home-based care. She also pointed out that by eliminating the power dynamic patients often feel when they walk into a hospital, these care models have the potential to address health equity concerns by minimizing distrust in populations that have been traditionally poorly served by the medical system.
But health system leaders definitely agreed that home-based care has clinical benefits, such as the ability to reduce hospitalizations and emergency department visits, according to the report.
While health systems are working hard to decentralize high acuity, longitudinal care away from facilities and bring it into the home, hospital leaders are still struggling with staffing when it comes to implementing these models. Nearly 60% of respondents said that finding the necessary staff is a significant barrier to deploying home care programs.
More than half of respondents also cited patient engagement and adherence as a top challenge to deploying home-based care. To overcome these obstacles, hospitals need user-friendly technology that can be seamlessly integrated into clinician workflows, as well as robust support services for clinical monitoring, logistics and technology, the report said. Additionally, more than three-quarters of the health system leaders included in this report said that enterprise-wide solutions are critical to deploying home care programs.
Health system leaders’ interest in home-based care models spans across clinical use cases and patient acuity levels, the report showed. Nine out of 10 respondents said their organization plans to offer virtual visits for specialty and primary care next year. But newer use cases are not far behind. Most health systems offer or have plans to offer chronic care management services and post-acute/early discharge care at home, according to the report.
Post-acute/early discharge care was actually the largest growth category among hospitals’ home-based care use cases. This could be driven by workforce shortages and capacity challenges that health systems across the country are facing, the report suggested.
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